Testimony of the Division of Criminal Justice
Joint Committee on Transportation
February 14, 2011
The Division of Criminal Justice respectfully submits the following testimony concerning bills on the agenda for today’s public hearing:
Proposed H.B. No. 6132 AN ACT CONCERNING EVIDENCE OF DRUNKEN DRIVING.
The Division of Criminal Justice respectfully requests the Committee’s Joint Favorable Substitute for this bill to incorporate the language proposed in H.B. No. 5155 of the 2010 Regular Session, An Act Concerning the Timing of Testing for Blood Alcohol Levels in Operating Under the Influence Cases. This would amend Section 14-227a of the General Statutes to revise the current requirement that tests to determine the blood alcohol content (BAC) of an individual suspected of driving under the influence be conducted within two hours of the time the individual was operating the vehicle in order for those tests to be admissible as evidence in a criminal or administrative proceeding. The amendment would waive the two-hour requirement and deem admissible the results of tests taken after the two-hour window but only when expert testimony is provided to establish that the test results may be counted on to accurately reflect BAC at the time of operation. This change is necessary to provide for the effective prosecution of DUI cases and the adjudication of administrative per se cases in the small number of instances where testing cannot be completed within two hours of vehicle operation. The reason that this may occur is simple: emergency personnel are focused on saving lives, not collecting evidence. In attending to the seriously injured, the emphasis must first be on emergency medical care and protecting public safety, which may prevent personnel from conducting blood alcohol testing. Again, tests conducted beyond the two-hour period would only be admissible when expert testimony was provided to establish that the test results may be counted on to accurately reflect BAC at the time of operation, assuring adequate safeguards for the rights of the accused.
Proposed S.B. No. 704 AN ACT CONCERNING THE USE OF IGNITION INTERLOCK DEVICES.
Proposed S.B. No. 745 AN ACT CONCERNING THE USE OF IGNITION INTERLOCK DEVICES BY PERSONS CONVICTED OF DRUNKEN DRIVING WITH A CHILD IN THE VEHICLE.
Proposed H.B. No. 6146 AN ACT PROHIBITING ANY PERSON CONVICTED OF DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF INTOXICATING LIQUOR (DUI) FROM OPERATING A MOTOR VEHICLE UNLESS SUCH VEHICLE IS EQUIPPED WITH AN IGNITION LOCK.
Proposed H.B. No. 6147 AN ACT REQUIRING IGNITION LOCKING DEVICES FOR PERSONS CONVICTED OF DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL.
Proposed H.B. No. 6202 AN ACT REQUIRING THE USE OF IGNITION LOCKING DEVICES.
The Division would recommend that the General Assembly address the issues related to ignition locking devices by amending section 14-215 (c) of the general statutes to require that whenever an operator is stopped and his or her license is determined to be under suspension that an interlock device must be used upon termination of the suspension. Such an approach would avoid the issue of having to coordinate the IID requirements under section 14-227a, the driving while intoxicated statute. Requiring the interlock device would not depend on the number of DUI convictions – the device in fact could be required for as few as one conviction. If the purpose of requiring an ignition interlock device is to prevent recidivism and to require all 14-215 (c) violators to be within the scope of the statute, then the preferred approach would be accomplished by requiring the devices pursuant to section 14-215 (c).
Proposed H.B. No. 6198 AN ACT PROHIBITING OPEN CONTAINERS OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES IN MOTOR VEHICLES.
The Division of Criminal Justice strongly supports an “open container” law to strengthen our efforts to combat drunken driving in Connecticut. However, the Division must stress again this year – as we have repeatedly in the past – that any open container must include certain provisions and avoid the “loopholes” included in past versions. Specifically, the Division strongly opposes any “tailgating exemption” as such a distinction raises obvious legal problems.
Proposed S.B. No. 706 AN ACT CONCERNING MUNICIPAL INTERSECTION SAFETY SYSTEMS.
Proposed S.B. No. 822 AN ACT AUTHORIZING THE USE OF PHOTOGRAPHIC TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT TECHNOLOGY.
Proposed H.B. No. 6178 AN ACT AUTHORIZING THE USE OF TRAFFIC CAMERAS BY MUNICIPALITIES.
Proposed H.B. No. 6179 AN ACT AUTHORIZING MUNICIPALITIES TO OPERATE INTERSECTION SAFETY CAMERA SYSTEMS.
While these bills offer worthwhile concepts they require additional refinement before they would produce a system that would be an effective tool for law enforcement. The Division applauds the public safety intentions of these bills, but also must stress the need for language that will allow for effective enforcement. The Division believes this is an area ripe for consideration but still too short on specifics to provide for effective enforcement and the efficient use of limited law enforcement resources. We would strongly urge that the Committee work closely with the law enforcement community, the Division of Criminal Justice and the Judicial Branch to develop a system that addresses all legal and public safety considerations.